The Macro Problem of Microtransactions: The Self-Regulatory Challenges of Video Game Loot Boxes

  title={The Macro Problem of Microtransactions: The Self-Regulatory Challenges of Video Game Loot Boxes},
  author={Matthew C. McCaffrey},
  journal={Public Health Law \& Policy eJournal},
  • M. McCaffrey
  • Published 1 July 2019
  • Business
  • Public Health Law & Policy eJournal
The video game industry has ignited a global controversy surrounding microtransactions in gaming, especially the use of loot boxes: randomized rewards with potential real-world value. Consumers and legislators are calling for the regulation of these revenue models on the grounds that they are unfair, predatory, or could be considered gambling. This article examines the controversy from a management perspective. First, I outline current regulatory responses to the controversy and what they mean… Expand
The Case for Uniform Loot Box Regulation: A New Classification Typology and Reform Agenda
The recent exponential increase in the presence of loot boxes and other forms of microtransactions in online games, together with the consequential development of a “token economy,” have createdExpand
Gaming the system: suboptimal compliance with loot box probability disclosure regulations in China
Loot boxes provide randomized rewards in video games; their purchase is linked to disordered gambling and they are present in approximately half of UK video games. The relative novelty of lootExpand
Gaming-Gambling Convergence: Trends, Emerging Risks, and Legislative Responses
A convergence of gaming and gambling products, services, and platforms is presently drawing considerable policy debate. This convergence may be giving rise to a critical area of consumerExpand
The interplay of micro-transaction type and amount of playing in video game evaluations
It is proposed that individuals react more negatively to micro-transactions involving functional rather than aesthetic features because functional, but not aesthetic features, alter the game balance – an essential element of competitive multiplayer games. Expand
Loot boxes, problem gambling and problem video gaming: A systematic review and meta-synthesis
Loot boxes (LBs) are video game-related purchases with a chance-based outcome. Due to similarities with gambling, they have come under increasing scrutiny from media, academics and policymakersExpand
The convergence of gambling and monetised gaming activities
A recent innovation contributing to the massive growth and profitability of the gaming industry has been the development of in-game monetisation. In-game purchasing features (e.g. ‘loot boxes’,Expand
A Cautious Approach to Public Policy and Loot Box Regulation
It is suggested that proposals to regulate loot boxes are premature, as they do not take account of several fundamental economic challenges facing policymakers, and a more cautious approach that takes account of costs and unintended consequences is recommended. Expand
Secondary analysis of loot box data: Are high-spending "whales" wealthy gamers or problem gamblers?
Primary analysis suggests that games developers are disproportionately profiting from moderate and high-risk gamblers, rather than high earning customers, and has implications for harm minimisation and ongoing policy debates around loot boxes. Expand
Enabling and Cultivating Wiser Consumption: The Roles of Marketing and Public Policy
Contemporary consumers, societies, and ecologies face many challenges to well-being. Consumer researchers have responded with new attention to what engenders happiness and flourishing, particularlyExpand
Effects of self-isolation and quarantine on loot box spending and excessive gaming—results of a natural experiment
Results suggest that social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic may inflate the effect size of some media psychology and gaming effects, and the established association between problem gambling symptomology and loot box spending was stronger among isolated gamers than those not isolated. Expand


Video Game Monetization (e.g., ‘Loot Boxes’): a Blueprint for Practical Social Responsibility Measures
Video games are becoming increasingly monetized with the addition of in-game purchasing options, which has prompted some comparisons of these products to electronic gaming machines. The expansion andExpand
Technological Leapfrogging: Lessons from the U.S. Video Game Console Industry
In industries characterized by network externalities, the self-reinforcing effects of installed base and the availability of complementary goods can lead to a single (or few) firm(s) controllingExpand
The new WTP: Willingness to participate
A key concept underlying competitive strategy is that of WTP, representing the consumer's 'willingness to pay' a premium price for goods or services. Through branding and other efforts, companiesExpand
Ridesharing in the Sharing Economy: Should Regulators Impose ÜBer Regulations on Uber?
I. INTRODUCTIONFor over a century, consumers have engaged in "throwaway living"- relying on disposable products rather than reusable ones.1 Consumers were more concerned with the convenience theExpand
Video game loot boxes are linked to problem gambling: Results of a large-scale survey
It is unclear from this study whether buying loot boxes acts as a gateway to problem gambling, or whether spending large amounts of money on loot boxes appeals more to problem gamblers, but results suggest that there may be good reason to regulate loot boxes in games. Expand
Watch your loot boxes! – Recent developments and legal assessment in selected key jurisdictions from a gambling law perspective
So called loot boxes are one of the most important monetization methods for many companies in the video gaming, social gaming and social casino gaming industry. After the global skin betting scandalExpand
The Influence of Online Consumer Reviews on the Demand for Experience Goods: The Case of Video Games
The results indicate that online consumer reviews have a significant influence on the sales of the video games and suggest the importance of managing online word of mouth for firms, especially for their less popular products. Expand
A guide to pay-what-you-wish pricing from the consumer’s viewpoint
Abstract As customer participation in business transactions increases, it is important to investigate how consumers approach financial transactions with firms in terms of selfishness and fairness.Expand
Video game loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling
Video games are increasingly exposing young players to randomized in-game reward mechanisms, purchasable for real money — so-called loot boxes. Do loot boxes constitute a form of gambling?
Decentralization and Localization of Production
The future organizational landscape may change drastically by mid-century as a result of widespread implementation of 3D printing. This article argues that global will turn local; mega (factories,Expand